November 23, 2013 1 Comment

_DSC0736-MToday is the 5oth anniversary of the death of President Kennedy.

It’s an event that those of us remember, even as very young children, with crystal clear traumatized memory.

What does a movie have to offer in circumstances like this?

I am watching the film Parkland as I write this.  Director Peter Landerman’s  cinematic efforts to portray an event that changed a nation uses  well-known stars (Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thorton and heart throb Josh Efros) to capture the feel of events that remain impossible to fathom.  Why?  How? What now?

Filmmaking has played a riveting role in the memory of these events since the Zapruder film emerged and shook the conventional explanations to the core.  Conspiracy theories have never abated.  What “actually” happened will never be known.

Oliver Stone tackled the story with his own hypothesis in “JFK”, somehow simplifying issues by “knowing”, leaving those of us grappling with doubt and uncertainty to struggle alone.

What is the role/purpose of film in addressing any attempt to know or make sense of events that defy understanding?  Do films “trivialize” ?  Are there issues that should not be reduced to film?  Do they help process or merely reduce to visual soundbites?

Parkland is not a perfect film.  Still, having the opportunity to screen the film TODAY feels like a privilege and an opportunity to expand beyond the “facts”.

I do not mean to trivialize by saying that Parkland is a “must see movie”.

Jolyn wagner

Must See Movie of the Week
One Comment to “Parkland”
  1. Bruce Russell says:

    If we want to know whether Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman and whether there was a conspiracy involved in Kennedy’s shooting, I think we should avoid relying on fictionalized accounts. Last week Nova presented compelling evidence that a single bullet (the so-called “magic bullet”) could have killed JFK and then passed through Connolly in the way it did without being appreciably damaged. The evidence included shooting through simulated flesh and having very high-speed cameras record what happened. Also, they noted how the shell for the Italian rifle that Oswald purchased from a mail-order catalog is unusual: it is rounded at the end, not tapered to a sharp point,so unlike most shells for high-powered rifles, and it has a full metal jacket the entire length of the shell (again, unlike most shells). When they shot this shell into pine boards, it penetrated 3 ft. but was nearly undamaged. Cameras showed how it began to tumble when it exited artificial flesh, and it was observed that the entry wound in Connolly was as if a bullet entered sideways, as a tumbling bullet might.

    People claim to have heard a 4th shot and to have seen a puff of smoke from the grassy knoll, but police went up there and found no one, nor any cartridge or gun. Sounds echo in that plaza, and people may have heard an echo rather than a fourth shot. Further, eyewitness testimony in situations like this is notoriously unreliable.

    People claim that Kennedy’s head lunged backwards and towards the center of the car on the final shot. They concluded that he must have been shot from the front. But the investigators for Nova shot a human skull from the back and noted that lines of force also went perpendicular to the path of the bullet, thereby explaining how a shot from the rear could have had the observed effects.

    Still, there is the puzzle about Jack Ruby who shot Oswald. Doesn’t that suggest that someone put him up to it and so that there was a conspiracy even if Oswald was the lone shooter? It suggests it, but lots of evidence seems incompatible with Ruby’s planning to kill Oswald. He was told the day before that they would transfer Oswald to the county jail at 10:00 a.m. the next day. But Ruby slept in and did not get to where they were holding Oswald until 11:17. Further, 3 minutes before the shooting he was at a Western Union wiring money to one of the girls that worked in his club. It takes about 83 seconds (1 min., 23 secs.) to walk from there to where Oswald was being held. So he was where he was for about only 1 min. 37 secs. He was calling things a little close if he had a plan to kill Oswald, and there is no explanation of why he would think Oswald hadn’t already been transferred at around 10:00 a.m. He often carried a gun so it was not unusual for him to have one with him that day.

    Maybe fictionalized films of events like this can have some other purpose, but if we want to know whether to accept certain theories about what the relevant causes of the observed events were, we should look to documentaries, not to these fictionalized accounts. They will most likely lead us away rather than towards the truth.

    My remarks apply as well to the film “A Dangerous Method,” which portrays a love relationship between Carl Jung and Sabina Spielrein. However, I thought that that film raised an interesting moral question: Is it ever morally permissible for a therapist to have a sexual relationship with his patient, regardless of whether what it depicted really happened. Does “Parkland” raise some interesting questions that do not depend on whether its portrayal of the JFK assassination is accurate or misleading? If so, what are they?

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